Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award

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Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award
LeagueMajor League Baseball
Awarded forGroup or person who has made a "major impact on the sport" of baseball
CountryUnited States, Canada
Presented byCommissioner of Baseball
First award1998
Most recentShohei Ohtani (2021)

The Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award is awarded by the Commissioner of Baseball, the chief executive of Major League Baseball (MLB), to a group or person who has made a "major impact on the sport" of baseball.[1] It is not an annual award; rather, the Commissioner presents it at his discretion. The trophy is a gold baseball sitting atop a cylindrical silver base,[2] created by Tiffany & Co.[3] The award has been presented sixteen times: thirteen times to players, once to a team, and twice to a non-player. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were the first to receive the award for their parts in the 1998 MLB home run record chase.[2] The most recent recipient is Shohei Ohtani, who was honored in 2021 for being the first player in MLB history to be an All-Star as both a starting pitcher and a lead-off hitter in the 2021 All-Star Game and for completing a two-way season as a hitter and as a pitcher. The 2001 Seattle Mariners won the award as a team for posting a 116–46 record one season after losing Alex Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers. Roberto Clemente, the 2006 awardee, is the only player to receive the award posthumously; his award was accepted by his wife, Vera.[4]

Three years after McGwire and Sosa were honored, Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn, both of whom retired after the 2001 season, received the award and were honored at the 2001 MLB All-Star Game; Ripken was elected to the American League All-Star team as a starter at third base, while Gwynn was later added as an honorary member of the National League team.[5] During the first inning of the game, Rodriguez, who had been elected the starter at shortstop—the position at which Ripken played for most of his career—switched positions with Ripken for the first inning of the game as a tribute.[6] Including the presentation of the award to the Mariners following the season, the 2001 season's three awards are the most presented in a single year.

Barry Bonds received the award in 2002, becoming the third player so honored for breaking the single-season home run record. Bonds was the first of two players to receive the award that season, along with Rickey Henderson. The award was given in each year from 2004 until 2007: Roger Clemens was honored during the 2004 All-Star Game, and Ichiro Suzuki was presented with the award for breaking the single-season hits record in 2005. Rachel Robinson was honored in 2007, receiving the award for establishing the Jackie Robinson Foundation. She was the first woman and the first non-player to be thus honored. In 2014 Vin Scully became the second non-player to be honored.


Awardee(s) Image Year presented Achievement Ref(s)
Barry Bonds A man in a white baseball uniform stands in the left-handed batter's box. He is holding a black bat and wearing a black batting helmet. His uniform reads "Giants" across the chest. 2002 Bonds set the MLB single-season home run record with 73 in the 2001 season. He also amassed 137 runs batted in, 177 walks, and an .863 slugging percentage; the last two broke records set by Babe Ruth. Bonds later went on to surpass both Ruth and Hank Aaron as the all-time MLB home run leader. [7][8]
Roger Clemens A man in a gray baseball uniform catches a baseball with his bare right hand. He is wearing a navy blue cap on his head with an interlocked "NY" and a black baseball glove on his left hand. His uniform reads "New York" across the chest. 2004 Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards during his career (six at the time of the award presentation), posted six seasons in which he won 20 or more games (career-high 24 wins in 1986), and won 354 games in his career. Clemens is only the fourth pitcher to surpass 4,000 strikeouts and appeared in 10 All-Star Games in his 24-year career. [9][10]
Roberto Clemente Roberto Clemente - Pittsburgh Pirates - 1966.jpg 2006 Clemente is the only posthumous recipient of the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award. He led the league in batting average four times in his career, notching his 3,000th hit in the 1972 season (September 30). Inducted into the Hall of Fame after his death at sea, Clemente was recognized not only for his statistical achievements over his 17 seasons, but for his humanitarian contributions. [4][11]
Ken Griffey Jr. Ken Griffey, Jr. June 2009.jpg 2011 Griffey was retired at the time of his award after having hit over 600 home runs, winning an MVP Award in 1997, and being named to the All-Century Team throughout his career. Commissioner Bud Selig described Griffey in a statement, saying he "was a gifted all-around player with a perfect swing, a brilliant glove, and a childlike joy for the game. From the time he was just 19, Ken represented MLB with excellence and grace, and he was one of our sport's greatest ambassadors not only in Seattle and Cincinnati but also around the world. I am most appreciative for all of Ken's contributions to our national pastime." [12][13]
Tony Gwynn Profile view of a dark-skinned, heavyset man wearing a dark suit, white dress shirt, and a ballcap. He is in an elevated, sitting position in a car pointing to the left with his right arm. 2001 Gwynn played 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, amassing 15 All-Star appearances and leading the league in batting average 8 times. His .338 average ranks him 17th on the all-time list for career batting average. Gwynn was the 1999 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, won five Gold Glove Awards, and notched a .306 career average in the postseason. [5][14]
Rickey Henderson A dark-skinned man in a dark blue shirt. He is holding a black baseball bat over his shoulder in both hands. He is wearing a navy blue baseball cap with a red "B" outlined in white, and the same "B" logo is shown on his shirt at the neck. 2002 During his 25-season career, Henderson set numerous MLB records, including most runs scored, most unintentional walks, most stolen bases in a season and a career, and most leadoff home runs in league history. Henderson began to play at the age of 20 with the 1979 Oakland Athletics, and continued through the 2003 season, playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers at age 44. Henderson continued to play after his unofficial retirement from MLB, appearing for several independent league teams. [15][16]
Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter wearing a navy hat and grey baseball uniform with a black glove stares into the distance.
2014 After a 20-season career with the New York Yankees, Jeter retired with the sixth-most career hits in MLB history. A five-time World Series champion, he set numerous MLB postseason career records, including most hits (200), most runs scored (111), most doubles (32), most extra-base hits (57) and most total bases (302). Jeter is also the Yankees' franchise leader in hits, games played, stolen bases, and at bats. Selig described Jeter as "one of the most accomplished shortstops of all-time" who "always represent[ed] the best of our National Pastime." [17]
Mark McGwire McGwire with the A's, 1989 1998 McGwire's name is linked with that of fellow 1998 award winner Sammy Sosa for their part in the MLB home run record chase of that season. McGwire ended the 1998 season with 70 home runs, the first player ever to reach the mark in a season and only the third player to break 60 home runs. McGwire finished his career with 583 home runs. [18][19]
Shohei Ohtani Shohei Ohtani with the Angels in 2019 2021 Ohtani was an unprecedented kind of player during his first four years in Major League Baseball, performing effectively both as a starting pitcher and as a designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels. He won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2018 when he hit 22 home runs as a hitter and earned four wins in ten starts as a pitcher. He did not pitch in 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, but in 2021 he broke out with 46 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 26 stolen bases offensively and recording nine wins and a 3.18 ERA on the mound. Ohtani was unanimously voted the American League Most Valuable Player, and was also the first player in MLB history to be an All-Star as both a starting pitcher and a lead-off hitter in the 2021 All-Star Game. This was the first time the award was presented by Rob Manfred. [20]
Cal Ripken Jr. A man with short hair prepares to swing a baseball bat. He is wearing a black shirt with "Orioles" written in orange (obscured), and the bat is held over his right shoulder. He is wearing orange and black batting gloves on his hands. 2001 Ripken broke one of baseball's "unbreakable" records[21] by playing in 2,131 consecutive games. His durability earned him the nickname "Iron Man", referencing Lou Gehrig (the "Iron Horse"), the player whose record he broke. Ripken would finish his career with 2,632 consecutive games played out of his 3,001 career games. He played for the Baltimore Orioles for 21 seasons, hitting 431 home runs and redefining the role of the shortstop in baseball. [6][22]
Mariano Rivera Mariano Rivera in a gray baseball uniform and navy blue cap stands on a dirt mound. He is striding forward to the right as he clutches a baseball behind his head. His uniform reads "New York" in navy blue letters across the chest. His face is contorted in concentration. 2013 Rivera retired as MLB's career leader in saves (652) and games finished (952) after a 19-year career with the New York Yankees, 17 of which were spent as the team's closer. A five-time World Series champion, Rivera set numerous postseason records, including most saves (42) and lowest earned run average (0.70). He was the final MLB player to wear the uniform number 42 following its league-wide retirement in honor of Jackie Robinson. Selig described Rivera as "a great ambassador of the game" who "represented his family, his country, the Yankees and all of Major League Baseball with the utmost class and dignity". [23]
Rachel Robinson A dark-skinned woman holds a medal in a green case. She is standing in a group of four people and has a wide smile. The woman has wavy gray hair and is dressed in a white suit. 2007 Robinson, the wife of pioneer Jackie Robinson, is the only woman and the first non-player to win the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award. In honor of her "contribution and sacrifice to the legacy of her husband", Selig presented the award to Robinson for her work with the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The Foundation has awarded more than $14 million in scholarships to students in need. [1]
Vin Scully An older man, wearing a suit and a rose corsage, smiles in the sunlight. 2014 Scully is the second non-player and the first broadcaster to win the award. He was given the award during his 65th season broadcasting games for the Dodgers, with Commissioner Selig recognizing Scully's "lifetime of extraordinary service." Scully broadcast Dodgers games from 1950 to 2016. He was honored with the Ford Frick Award in 1982 and was inducted in the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995. [24]
Seattle Mariners A large moose mascot runs down the third-base line of a baseball diamond. He is carrying a large navy blue flag adorned with a teal and silver compass. 2001 After the 2000 season, the Mariners lost shortstop Alex Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers via free agency. Adding Orix BlueWave outfielder Ichiro Suzuki from the Japanese league, the 2001 Mariners won their division with a 116–46 record, 14 games ahead of the second-place Oakland Athletics. Suzuki finished with a team-high .350 batting average, winning the Rookie of the Year award, and was named the league's Most Valuable Player. In the second round of the playoffs, the Mariners were defeated by the Yankees. [25][26]
Sammy Sosa A black-and-white photo of a dark-skinned man in a baseball uniform. His face is partially obscured by the shadow of his batting helmet. His white uniform reads "Orioles" across the chest (obscured). 1998 Sosa and Mark McGwire's chase for the single-season home run record thrust the National League Central division into the spotlight, but Sosa's Chicago Cubs finished ahead of McGwire's St. Louis Cardinals in the division standings, second to the 102-win Houston Astros. Thus, Sosa was the recipient of the 1998 Most Valuable Player Award, though his 66 home runs placed him 4 behind McGwire's record of 70. Sosa went on to be the only player in MLB history to collect three 60-home-run seasons (1998, 1999, 2001). [2][27]
Ichiro Suzuki A man in a gray baseball uniform running to the right. The uniform reads "Seattle" across the front, and has a sleeve patch with a teal and silver compass surrounded by "Seattle Mariners". The man is wearing a dark batting helmet. 2005 In breaking a record many thought "unbreakable",[28] Ichiro amassed 262 hits in 2004 (an MLB-leading .372 batting average). The previous single-season record had been set in 1920 by George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns (257). Ichiro also led the league in at-bats (704), plate appearances (762), and intentional walks (19). [25][29]


  • "Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award". Major League Baseball. Retrieved September 24, 2009.
Inline citations
  1. ^ a b Bloom, Barry M. (April 15, 2007). "Commissioner honors Rachel Robinson". Major League Baseball. Archived from the original on March 19, 2010. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Armour, Nancy (September 20, 1998). "Home Run!: The Year the Records Fell". Associated Press. ISBN 9781582610269. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  3. ^ "About Tiffany & Co.: Tiffany & Co. Sports Trophies". Tiffany & Co. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Dvorchak, Robert (July 13, 2006). "Clemente All-Star tribute another touching moment". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Hickey, John (July 11, 2001). "Ripken blasts homer, earns All-Star MVP". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Baseball begins to bid farewell to Ripken, Gwynn". CNN / Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. July 10, 2001. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  7. ^ Rawitch, Josh (July 10, 2002). "Bonds excels on All-Star stage". Major League Baseball. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  8. ^ "Barry Bonds Statistics and History". Retrieved September 24, 2009.
  9. ^ Chass, Murray (July 14, 2004). "On Baseball; It's Up to Piazza to Say Whether or Not It's All Over". The New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2009.
  10. ^ "Roger Clemens Statistics and History". Retrieved September 24, 2009.
  11. ^ "Roberto Clemente Statistics and History". Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  12. ^ Haft, Chris (October 23, 2011). "Griffey receives Historic Achievement Award". Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  13. ^ For photo of award presentation, see: "MLB Award Winners (2011): Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award — Ken Griffey Jr". Fox Sports Interactive Media, LLC. November 1, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  14. ^ "Tony Gwynn Statistics and History". Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  15. ^ "American vs. National". USA Today. July 13, 2004. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  16. ^ "Rickey Henderson". The Baseball Cube. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  17. ^ "Derek Jeter honored with Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award" (Press release). Major League Baseball. September 23, 2014. Archived from the original on October 31, 2017. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  18. ^ Stone, Larry (September 9, 1998). "Mark McGwire King Of Swing – Summer Of 62 – McGwire Takes Possession Of Grandest Of Records, Turns Thoughts To Legacy". Seattle Times. Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  19. ^ "Mark McGwire Statistics and History". Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  20. ^ Castrovince, Anthony (October 26, 2021). "Ohtani wins Historic Achievement Award". Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  21. ^ "The Hall of Famers: Cal Ripken". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Archived from the original on October 5, 2008. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  22. ^ "Cal Ripken Statistics and History". Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  23. ^ "Mariano Rivera Receives Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award" (Press release). Major League Baseball. October 24, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  24. ^ "Vin Scully honored with Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award". September 5, 2014. Archived from the original on January 29, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2014.
  25. ^ a b Street, Jim (April 22, 2005). "Ichiro honored at Safeco". Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  26. ^ "2001 Seattle Mariners Batting, Pitching, and Fielding Statistics". Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  27. ^ "Sammy Sosa Statistics and History". Retrieved September 25, 2009.
  28. ^ Street, Jim (February 22, 2005). "What will Ichiro do for an encore?". Archived from the original on June 17, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  29. ^ "Ichiro Suzuki Statistics and History". Retrieved September 25, 2009.